Losing My Cool

I'm not a cool Dad, but that's ok, neither are you

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I bought this to celebrate my coolness - Photo by Chris Curry on Unsplash

Nobody told me it was mathematically impossible to both be a cool Dad and be perceived as one by your children. It’s Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle of Coolness. Quoting obscure physics Nobel laureates is a good start at losing cool status. I know you think it’s cool dear reader, but nobody cares if your wife or your friends or readers think you’re a cool Dad, it’s all about the children.

I’d settle for my son’s friends thinking I’m cool. How I long to eavesdrop and overhear, “You know, your Dad’s really cool” as I walk past my son’s door when his friend Ryan is visiting. I listen carefully, but they must whisper when they talk about me.

I’ve heard my son say, “Ryan’s Dad is really cool, he plays poker with us” and it’s a punch to the gut. I’ve played poker with my son. I won two weeks worth of his allowance. Of course I kept the money, I’m teaching life lessons here, not running a soup kitchen. I showed him how to play poker, how am I not as cool as Ryan’s Dad?

If I asked my son about this, he would of course say, “Yeah thanks for teaching me, but you can’t be cool, because you’re my Dad.”

“Yes, I know that *I* can’t be cool! But why is Ryan’s Dad cool?”

“It’s ok Dad, Ryan doesn’t tell his Dad he’s cool, that wouldn’t be cool.”

I could vaporize this whole charade by calling up Ryan’s Dad right now and saying, “Hey, you know what? Your son thinks you’re cool. He told my son.”

But what good is being cool if everyone is cool? I want to be the cool Dad. I want the trophy!

Last year at a kids hockey tournament (yes, I know I go to a lot of these), I was sure I’d nailed Cool Dad of the Year. I allowed my kid to take his Playstation to the team hotel, and as soon as the console was hooked up, they started a hockey tournament. I asked my son if it was ok for me to play, and he yelled out, “Hey guys, mind if my Dad plays?”

I could see the appraising looks. The stares at my muffin-top and the ketchup stain on my shirt from a lunch hot dog. The assessment that I was indeed a Dad and no threat. I was allowed to play. I proceeded to be undefeated in five straight games and won a trophy I had bought for myself and kept in my pocket in the hopes of this outcome.

Victorious, I broke into a grin and began a slow victory lap around the living room. I pulled the trophy from my pocket and held it above my head with both hands as the other Dads gazed on in sullen jealousy. As I composed a victory speech in my head, my 14 year old son, who is taller than me, plucked the trophy out of my hands and handed it to a pathetic loser, the runner-up.

Apparently I wasn’t actually eligible to win the tournament, I was a pity-participant. I was then told by my son that I wasn’t allowed to play for the rest of the weekend. I get it, there’s only so much cool that you can accept from your own Dad.

Moms become uncool simply by becoming Moms. Sorry ladies, I don’t make the rules. Dads are actually pretty cool despite their Dadness, until the kids learn to speak, have their own friends, and develop standards. At that point though, being a Dad is like getting hit with a dork stick. There’s no such thing as a dork stick of course, but if you say made-up phrases like that to your kids, there’s a chance you’ll sound cool. Worth a shot, amirite?

The seeds of uncoolness started before having kids. Moving to the suburbs, shopping at Costco, becoming proud of your lawn, these are fun, too fun to be cool. Glaring out the window at the damn teenagers cutting across the lawn — also not cool. Now they’re my teenagers and I have no control whatsoever over whose lawns they trample. I should listen to my wife and move away from the window while I still have some dignity.

My perceived lack of coolness isn’t because of any ineptitude with high school vocabulary. I got Rizz, no cap, skull emoji, smh, idk. I know proper capitalization of acronyms is uncool. But I refuse to learn how to use Snap just because all the kids do it. That would look like I’m trying too hard.

I did make sure my 14 year old saw Snapchat on my iPhone screen one day, and every once in a while I toss out a “Hey, nice story today” to him, to keep him on his toes. I’m not sure what a story is, but when he rolls his eyes I know I’ve nailed the usage. I’m pretty sure that makes me cool, even if he’ll never admit it to me.

Wait a minute. Maybe his friends DO think I’m cool, and everybody else knows but me. But then why hasn’t Ryan’s Dad called me to let me know?

Selfish bastard.

  1. Inspiration for this post came from a post by Lily Hirsch about being an uncool Mom. Thanks Lily, I’d show your article to my wife, but she’d cry onto her patterned cardigan. She thinks I’m the uncool one.

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